It came as no surprise to anyone involved that the Atchison Junior A’s and Doniphan County would battle it out to determine the Northeast Zone Tournament champion.
By making it to Friday’s finals, both teams had qualified for state. Friday’s games would determine seeding for the state tournament, as well as bragging rights for one of the teams.
The A’s needed just one win to be crowned champions, while DC needed two. DC came out on top, winning the opener, 7-4, and the finale, 1-0 in nine innings.
Tyler Franken doubled in the ninth and scored on a hit by Brody Winder to end the lengthy contest, and tournament.
The teams remained deadlocked at 0-0 through the first three innings of Game 2 as Wil Smith of DC and Austin Bonnel of Atchison attacked opposing hitters.
DC threatened in the fourth, but Atchison’s Adam Smith jumped to snag a line drive to make the third out of the inning with a runner on third base.
Atchison loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth, but couldn’t score.
A scoreless seventh inning sent the game to extras, which DC won in the ninth.
The A’s held a lead on two different occasions in the first game, but DC answered both times. Winder singled and Wil Smith walked – both came around to score for DC in the third inning after Hunter Ostertag had given Atchison a 1-0 lead in the top half of the frame.
Doniphan added another run in the fourth, but the A’s came back with three runs in the top of the fifth.
Ostertag walked and scored on Adam Smith’s singled. Hunter Wahwahsuck walked and he and Smith scored on a single by Parker Welch.
Once again, however, DC answered right away. They had three singles and a double to open the bottom of the fifth to chase Atchison’s starter, Noah Baniewicz, from the game. Wahwahsuck got the A’s out of the jam, but four runs had crossed the plate to put DC up, 7-4.
Atchison’s last gasp came in the final inning. The A’s loaded the bases against Wil Smith, who had relieved Zeb Speer in the fifth inning, but were unable to push any runs across the plate. The DC win forced the second and deciding game of the tournament.
The American Legion Class A State Tournament will begin Tuesday, July 21 in Salina. Pairings and game times for Atchison and DC had not been published as of press time.